Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Discussion forum for all medical education issues, including residency programs, medical schools, etc.
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Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by DrDave » Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:49 pm

<Updated 2/23/11 with additional info on GPA and MCAT acceptance rates>

Medical school requirements seems to be the most common topic for questions and issues on this website and my former website. So - here's the information most people sought:

Q. What classes do I need to take in college to go to medical schoool?

A. Most medical schools have the same basic requirements:

1 year physics
1 year general chemistry
1 year biology
1 year organic chemistry
1 year english

The above classes are sometimes referred to as the "pre-med requirements". Those students who are "pre-med" are going to take the above classes. See below about majors.

A few medical schools also require calculus. You can usually find out what the requirements are for any specific school by looking at that medical school's website. There is also a book, Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), which gives the specific requirements for each medical school. I know that my college had a copy of it in the library, and my guess is that would be true for most colleges.

Q. What is the MCAT?

A. Medical College Admissions Test. For those that like the SAT's (at least from when I took it):

SAT : MCAT :: College : Medical School

For those who don't care for the SAT's, the MCAT is the test you take to get into medical school. Almost all medical schools require the MCAT. It is a multiple choice test (with an essay section) in the areas of biological sciences, physical sciences, verbal reasoning, and a writing sample. Each section (except the writing sample) is scored from 1 to 15, with 15 being best. The courses mentioned above are basically what the MCAT tests on. You can often find out what the average MCAT scores were for people who got into a specific medical school. Great MCAT scores alone will never get you into medical school (but they do help). Bad MCAT scores can probably keep you out of medical school.

Q. What should I major in? Do I major in 'pre-med'?

A. First off, there is no such major as 'pre-med'. Pre-med is a term which refers to students who are planning on going to medical school and therefore take the classes required for medical school. You can major in any field and be pre-med if you took the above classes and are planning on going to medical school. As to what any specific person should major in, the general advice I've heard is that you should major in what you find most interesting to you. Medical schools don't select applicants based on their majors. You will find more doctors that majored in the sciences, just by the nature of the people that become doctors. Also, if you take all of the pre-med courses, you will be close to having completed a major in biology or chemistry. Once you are in medical school, though, you will be taking all of the science courses that you could possibly want. Take advantage of the courses that are offered at your college that you won't have a chance to take again later in life. I've known doctors who major in just about every field imaginable - from philosophy to religion to music to physics. Take what is interesting, as long as you take all the pre-med requirements.

Q. What GPA do I need to get into medical school?

A. I have never heard of a particular GPA that will keep a person out of medical school, or any particular number of bad grades that will keep you out, but the more C's you get, the more unlikely it becomes you will get into a medical school. I'd say that the closer you get to a 3.0, the more difficult it becomes as well. Most people probably have GPA's around the 3.5 range or better. Generally, I'd say that the worse your MCAT scores are, the better your GPA would have to be. Better MCAT scores definitely seem to help lower GPA's.

<Update 2/23/11 - see this thread with detailed tables on MCAT and GPA requirements>

Q. What MCAT score do I need to get into medical school?

A. Similar to the GPA question, there is no definite answer. I'd say most people have 10's to 12's but some people have 8's and 9's and may still get into medical school.

Just to give some more specific statistics, based on this page from University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign's website, in 2003 they give some of the averages for MCATs and GPAs for the Illinois schools.

Northwestern: 6800 applicants, 660 interviewed, 170 accepted. GPA avg=3.7, MCAT avg=11
Rush: 3700 applicants, 475 interviewed, 120 accepted. GPA avg=3.55, MCAT avg=10
Chicago Medical School: 6000 apps, 617 interviewed, 189 accepted. GPA=3.3, MCAT=28
Univ of Chicago: 3780 apps, 500 interviewed, 104 accepted. GPA=3.6, MCAT=10.8
Loyola: 6300 apps, 600 interviews, 130 accepted. GPA=3.61. MCAT=10
Southern Illinois: 1000 apps, 250 interviewed, 72 accepted. GPA=3.5, MCAT=30
Univ of Illinois: 4000 apps, 740 interviewed, 300 accepted. GPA=3.56, MCAT=30

<Update 2/23/11 - see this thread with detailed tables on MCAT and GPA requirements>

Q. What other factors are there in getting accepted into medical school?

A. I'd have to say that GPA and MCAT scores account for a large majority of what admissions boards look into when deciding whether you would get an interview. Based on what I've heard, the other factors are - what school you went to for undergraduate (some schools have a reputation of having much more rigorous pre-med courses than others), extracurricular activities, research experience, letters of recommendation, volunteer experience, and just plain other factors. Additionally, if you have a problem on your transcript, you'd better have a good explanation as to why it happened and how you will make sure something like that doesn't happen again.

For the time being - that should be a start. Feel free to ask your questions and I'll do my best to answer.


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Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by nikki9822 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:19 pm

Does the one year of biology mean Bio I and II, or can anatomy/physiology take the place of Bio II?

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Post by DrDave » Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:49 am

nikki9822 wrote:Does the one year of biology mean Bio I and II, or can anatomy/physiology take the place of Bio II?
Medical schools typically expect it to be Bio I and II - with a lab to go along with it. Same with General Chemistry I and II (with lab). At decent colleges, these are often "weed out" classes that tend to be fairly demanding.

cristy

Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by cristy » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:00 pm

I was just wondering if I will still be able to get into medical school if I received a letter grade of a D for physics II and organic I but took them over and received an A or B the second time around? I will really appreciate if you answered my question. Thank you.

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Post by DrDave » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:53 pm

Cristy,

Getting D's in the pre-med courses is definitely a problem. If you retook them and got A's, and your other grades are all decent (meaning your overall GPA is over 3.5), then I think you could potentially still get into a medical school. I would also think you would need to have a good explanation as to why your grades were so low. I think it also depends on what college you are attending, what your MCAT scores are, and how you did in your other classes.


Arzo

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Post by Arzo » Sat May 09, 2009 5:33 pm

doest it matter what school you go to for your undergraduate? i mean does it matter if you go to UC's or CSU's ? if you can please answer this thanks :)

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Post by DrDave » Sat May 09, 2009 10:02 pm

Arzo,

I assume by UC you mean Univ of California, and by CSU you maybe mean Colorado State.

I would say the college you go to, assuming it is a full four year college, won't make that much difference to most medical school admission boards. It probably does make a difference if you are applying to one of the very elite medical schools, such as Harvard. You do want to make sure the college does have a pre-med track - their basic science courses need to be sufficient to meet the requirements of someone who is applying to medical school.

Arzo

Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by Arzo » Fri May 15, 2009 10:25 pm

Thank you so much for the information :)

kdobbsrn

Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by kdobbsrn » Wed May 20, 2009 2:42 pm

I am an RN. I have been a nurse for three years and I have decided to try to go to medical school. My current GPA is a 3.31. I had a D in pharmacology when I was in nursing school but I did retake it. I will be transferring to Mississippi State University this Fall from a community college. I have had an A in all of my classes since returning to school. Do you have any advice for me?

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Post by DrDave » Thu May 21, 2009 7:30 pm

kdobbsrn,

I think it is very promising that you have gotten all A's since returning to school. You should be prepared to have a good explanation why you got a D in pharmacology the first time through. I think that you will have a much better idea of your chances of getting into medical school once you start taking the pre-med classes at a four year college. If you find that you do well in the pre-med science classes, then medical school may be the right fit for you. Those classes will be much more challenging than the classes you've taken at a community college. I wish you luck.

pharmd

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Post by pharmd » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:10 am

Hi. Just curious. I am currently enrolled at Ohio Northern University in the Pharmacy college which is a direct entry 0-6 year PharmD program and have a GPA of 3.15 and am involved in many extra cirriculars and also have lots of volunteer experience. However, several of my credit hours have been transferred into ONU from the post-secondary option in high school as well as a few others including OChem and religion. Is medical school a likely option for me?

mandarynka

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Post by mandarynka » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:47 am

Hey. Ok so, I have had a rough year. I went through a traumatic experience this year and it took a toll on my academic performance. I got a D in bio and then did a withdraw for the second bio course. I go to an ivy and its ridiculously hard for me so I was thinking about just doing my regular double major and then doing post back at a regular university. I think that that way I will have a higher GPA as an undergrad and then have a good science GPA doing the post back. Any input? I'm not sure if I should just follow through with the premed or take time off from it until postback and just take them all at once at an easier school?

jamil

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Post by jamil » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:34 pm

hello, i was just wondering if honors classes at a community college would be worth taking to make my chances of getting into medical school better. and also do letters of recomendation and becoming a teachers assistant in community college matter?

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Post by DrDave » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:42 pm

mandarynka,

I think your plan is reasonable, although I don't have experience to know if post bacc programs are really going to be any easier than your pre-med courses at an IVY league school. The path you are suggesting makes sense if you can be fairly sure you will do well in a post-bacc program. Was the class hard because of your school, or because the material is hard to learn no matter what school you attend? Make sure you aren't just putting off finding out that medical school is not a good fit for you.

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Post by DrDave » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:49 pm

jamil,

I think doing extra things at a community college, while maybe helpful, are not nearly as important as doing well in pre-med level science classes. In my opinion, the two most important factors in getting into medical school are GPA (both science and non-science) and MCAT scores. I doubt the things you are suggesting will make a significant difference in getting into medical school or not.

jamil

Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by jamil » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:46 pm

thanks, your very helpful!

Marlene

Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by Marlene » Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:53 pm

Hello. My question is this : i'll be starting nursing school next year to receive my BSN. I do wish to go to med school after i finish nursing school. I have the majority of my requirements for med school. However, i am not pleased with my performance of my undergraduate career due to personal circumstances. I was thinking about retaking my classes (starting over) so that my grades are better. Would think be a likely solution for me to get into med school?

Lalita

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Post by Lalita » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:40 am

hello, i just wonder if you know anything about a scholarship into medical school?

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Post by DrDave » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:44 am

Lalita,

There are both academic and need-based scholarships available. Academic scholarships are rare, but I do know a few people who managed to find and get them. Most people qualify for some type of need-based scholarship. Most people also take out a large amount of loans to cover the costs of medical school. I know that I also had considered MD/PhD programs when I was applying. In those programs, you typically get a tuition waiver and are given a stipend while working on your PhD. Those programs are competitive and are very challenging - not just academically challenging. The people I know who completed the programs had a difficult time with the transition from research back to clinical work, and then with choosing a final career path that would allow them to do everything they enjoyed. In the end I think they have all found a very satisfactory career, but there were many challenges along the way.

pharmd

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Post by pharmd » Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:21 pm

Hi. Just curious. I am currently enrolled at Ohio Northern University in the Pharmacy college which is a direct entry 0-6 year PharmD program and have a GPA of 3.15 and am involved in many extra cirriculars and also have lots of volunteer experience. However, several of my credit hours have been transferred into ONU from the post-secondary option in high school as well as a few others including OChem and religion. Is medical school a likely option for me?

Ani

Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by Ani » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:17 pm

Hi,
I wanted to know if a bachelor degree is required for med school? I've looked into dental schools n they recommend it but don't require it. I wanted to know if the same applies for med school. Id really appreciate your help. thanks!

Ani

Davis

Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by Davis » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:41 pm

Hello,

I got my degree via an online studies with a 2.8 GPA. I also attened a Graduate program online, graduating with a 3.83 GPA. How likely would it be for me to get into medical school with the degrees that I currenlty hold?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by cindynhuyle » Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:32 pm

Hi,

I am currently working FT with a master degree in Occupational therapy. I would like to go back for medical school. I have undergraduate GPA of 2.7 (Not great, I know...I wasn't very focueds and figured "C's get degrees too"--horrible status of mind at that time) and a graduate GPA of 3.12 at Boston University (both undergraduate and graduate). I have not completed all my pre-med requirements, should I apply for a postbac. premed program or just self study/online classes to prepare for the MCAT? Will medical school accept me even if I didn't not complete the pre-med course but did well on the MCAT (take in consideration of my low GPA)? If anyone know more about this process, please contact me. I absolutely, positively and passionately want to pursue this career greatly. Email: cindynhuyle@gmail.com

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by DrDave » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:12 pm

PharmD,

I'm not familiar with the post-secondary option for high school, but it sounds similar to AP classes. I am not sure how medical schools will view your particular post-secondary option courses. I know that in my case, I only took AP physics in high school and didn't take any in college. I've never heard of an AP version of organic chemistry, but I went to high school 20 years ago. I think a GPA of 3.15 is on the low side if you are interested in medical school. Your other experiences mean significantly less to a medical admission's board compared to your GPA and MCAT scores. I am not saying you couldn't get accepted to medical school, I'm just thinking you need to be prepared for the possibility that you may not get accepted.

Ani,

You'd have to look at the specific medical schools as to whether they require a bachelor's degree. Some do and some don't. You would have to take all of the required pre-med classes.

Davis,

I have no idea how medical schools would view on-line degrees. Your undergraduate GPA is definitely low, but your graduate GPA is decent. I am not aware of any on-line programs that would offer the required pre-med courses, as your classes need to include a lab experience. While I have no information personally, I would be very surprised if a medical admission's board would accept someone who took mostly online courses. It would be very important for you to explain why you took your courses on-line as opposed to a typical university.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by DrDave » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:15 pm

Cindy,

I don't have any specific recommendations for you. Your GPA is definitely on the low side for medical school. My understanding is that you have to complete the required pre-med coursework. Just taking the MCAT and doing well is not enough.

Lil

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by Lil » Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:35 pm

Can I still get accepted to med school with a bachelors degree from a trade school?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Answers

Post by DrDave » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:17 am

Lil,

I'm not sure what type of trade school. But I think if you have any bachelor's degree you would just need to take the required pre-med classes and take the MCAT to be eligible for medical school. I would definitely suggest you check with a medical school you might consider and ask them if they would accept your credentials.

serena

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by serena » Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:38 am

I am a biochem major and I am going to graduate this spring. My current GPA is 3.1. My college does not allow me to retake the classes that I got a C or higher. I have quite a lot of C's, but I can't retake these classes because it would be considered "illegal". What score (MCAT) do you think I have to get to be able to get into medical school? I don't mind getting into an unpopular/less well-known medical school. Any medical school is fine with me.lol

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:40 pm

It's really hard to say what the right number is for MCAT and GPA, but I just saw a nice website that can give you a better idea of real world experiences:

mdapplicants.com

It seems like they have a lot of data, and you can search for specific criteria you are interested in - such as people who have gotten accepted into medical school with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.1

People have gotten in, but when you look through their information you'll find a large variety of stories. Just a quick scan I did it seemed like several went to DO schools instead of MD. Also, some had other careers between college and applying to medical school, or they had some graduate school experience.

The bottom line is that you will do the best you can on the MCAT and then you'll have to see if you are a competitive applicant at that point.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by ananoza » Wed May 12, 2010 1:04 pm

Hi,
So I took Biochemistry last semster and got a C+ (mostly b/c I had too much time on my plate that semester). This is my lowest grade so for and I go to Rutgers University. Overall my GPA is in the high 3.6 range and my science is over a 3.5. Will the C+ affect my chances of medical school??? or will i be ok as long as I do well on my MCATs :?: Thank you and please resond soon :o

Kiersten

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Kiersten » Wed May 12, 2010 5:00 pm

Hi my name is Kiersten. I am a student who is majoring in Biology and I absolutely done poor in the subject. I have received two D's and it has completely destroyed my GPA. My intended career is to become a Pediatrician and and Immunologist in adolescence. My question is can I major in Anatomy and still get into medical school?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Thu May 13, 2010 3:41 pm

ananoza wrote:Hi,
So I took Biochemistry last semster and got a C+ (mostly b/c I had too much time on my plate that semester). This is my lowest grade so for and I go to Rutgers University. Overall my GPA is in the high 3.6 range and my science is over a 3.5. Will the C+ affect my chances of medical school??? or will i be ok as long as I do well on my MCATs :?: Thank you and please resond soon :o
Ananoza - Your overall GPA and science GPA are both decent, in spite of your C+. I'd think that with good MCAT's, you'd still be a reasonable applicant at many medical schools. Just my opinion, as I've never been privy to actual admission's decisions other than my own.
Kiersten wrote:Hi my name is Kiersten. I am a student who is majoring in Biology and I absolutely done poor in the subject. I have received two D's and it has completely destroyed my GPA. My intended career is to become a Pediatrician and and Immunologist in adolescence. My question is can I major in Anatomy and still get into medical school?
Kiersten - your major has no significant impact on your chances of getting into medical school. You just need to take the required pre-med courses and the MCAT. Any major is acceptable. However, if you received two D's in biology, you will have a VERY difficult time getting accepted into medical school. If you struggled with general biology, you likely will have a very difficult time with the basic medical school curriculum.

Shams

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Shams » Fri May 14, 2010 11:49 am

hi, i was wondering, i have began my med school requirements at a community college, what courses can i take there that won't decreases my chance of getting in to med school, because i was told that i have to take some of the important science courses at a university like the organic chemistry courses, since the courses at the university at considered more challenging or difficult than at a community college. which would play a role in choosing applicants.so i want to know which courses can i take at the community and which courses at the university while keeping my chances good?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Fri May 14, 2010 1:43 pm

Shams wrote:hi, i was wondering, i have began my med school requirements at a community college, what courses can i take there that won't decreases my chance of getting in to med school, because i was told that i have to take some of the important science courses at a university like the organic chemistry courses, since the courses at the university at considered more challenging or difficult than at a community college. which would play a role in choosing applicants.so i want to know which courses can i take at the community and which courses at the university while keeping my chances good?
Shams - You would need to take the required pre-med courses at a 4 year college. A medical school generally won't accept the pre-med courses taken at a community college. You can take courses at the community college that will help you complete your degree at the 4 year university reducing the amount of time and expense for the 4 year college, but make sure you take the science classes at the 4 year college and that they are at the appropriate level for pre-med (the same classes someone majoring in those fields would take - eg. biology for biology majors, chemistry for chemistry majors).

Here's another thread about transferring from Community College as a pre-med student.

Best of luck!

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by ananoza » Fri May 21, 2010 10:50 am

Hi,
So I went through a hard school year there was a lot going on, but because of everything I ended up with 3 C+ for this year :( (in science classes) my Science gpa is around a 3.45 now and my cumulative is around 3.63. With a killer MCAT score do i still have a chance of getting into an MD medical school?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Fri May 21, 2010 5:19 pm

ananoza wrote:Hi,
So I went through a hard school year there was a lot going on, but because of everything I ended up with 3 C+ for this year :( (in science classes) my Science gpa is around a 3.45 now and my cumulative is around 3.63. With a killer MCAT score do i still have a chance of getting into an MD medical school?
Getting C+'s in science classes will definitely hurt. I'm surprised you managed to keep a 3.45 GPA in science with 3 C+'s. Were all of your other science grades A's? Was there something specific going on in your life that could explain the low grades? If you have a reasonable explanation for the low grades, and you can show that you are able to get good grades in tough science classes, then perhaps a good MCAT may give you a chance. It wouldn't hurt to to discuss your situation with your school's pre-med advisor. I'm curious what an expert thinks. Obviously the C's hurt but the GPA isn't really that bad.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by ananoza » Fri May 21, 2010 11:20 pm

This was the year I discovered Test Anxiety for the first time in my life, that in addition to a heavy course load filled with lots of upper class science classes and studying for my MCATs really hurt my grades. I haven't recieved ALL A's in my science classes but I do have mostly As and B+ and I have taken a lot of science classes I am a Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Psychology double major and I also hold a leadership position in an honors fraternity which also takes a lot of time (plus I work in a Research laboratory for more than 15 hours every week-during the weekdays when I am not in class).
:(

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Tue May 25, 2010 5:57 pm

ananoza wrote:This was the year I discovered Test Anxiety for the first time in my life, that in addition to a heavy course load filled with lots of upper class science classes and studying for my MCATs really hurt my grades. I haven't recieved ALL A's in my science classes but I do have mostly As and B+ and I have taken a lot of science classes I am a Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Psychology double major and I also hold a leadership position in an honors fraternity which also takes a lot of time (plus I work in a Research laboratory for more than 15 hours every week-during the weekdays when I am not in class).
:(
Ananoza,

Interesting situation. If the C+'s were in higher level science classes and you had done well on the basic pre-med courses, it may not hurt quite as much. I'm not sure why I think that would be the case, but it seems logical to me that other pre-med students would only have the pre-med classes in their science GPA so comparing apples to apples would be comparing their pre-med course GPA to your pre-med course GPA.

The bigger issue for you may be your test anxiety. If your test anxiety was a major contributor, you'll want to get some help to address it. You aren't going to want to have to worry about test anxiety when taking the MCAT or board exams.

akanksha

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by akanksha » Sun May 30, 2010 7:00 pm

Is it required that we get a bacchalearete before going to med school?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Mon May 31, 2010 1:49 pm

akanksha wrote:Is it required that we get a bacchalearete before going to med school?
Most medical schools do have a requirement for an undegraduate degree, but there are some medical schools that do not have this requirement. You can check with the particular school you would be considering. In almost all cases, applicants have a degree. There was a discussion on this topic a while ago:

Do you need an undergraduate degree to get accepted into medical school?

Gary Barta

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Gary Barta » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:55 pm

I graduated from undergrad with an abismal GPA of 2.0, which was attributed to a late diagnosed learning disorder. I recently graduated law school with a 3.5 GPA. I was a political science major with absolutely no science background. I am interested in pursuing a medical degree and was wondering if anybody would be kind enough to provide me an honest assessment of my chances for admission. Further, if certain science classes are required, would I be able to knock those out in one year and proceed to med school?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:38 pm

Gary Barta wrote:I graduated from undergrad with an abismal GPA of 2.0, which was attributed to a late diagnosed learning disorder. I recently graduated law school with a 3.5 GPA. I was a political science major with absolutely no science background. I am interested in pursuing a medical degree and was wondering if anybody would be kind enough to provide me an honest assessment of my chances for admission. Further, if certain science classes are required, would I be able to knock those out in one year and proceed to med school?
Your undergraduate GPA is obviously very low relative to the typical medical school student's college GPA. It is interesting you were able to get into law school with that GPA. I'm curious how you managed to accomplish getting into law school, as a similar approach may work for you for medical school. As your law school GPA was very solid, I'm guessing you must have found some way to adapt to your learning disorder. You are fortunate that your learning disorder is something amenable to adaptations / treatment. If your can demonstrate an ability to do adequately in medical school, you actually may have a chance of getting in - assuming you can demonstrate to the admission's board that your learning disorder will not prevent you from learning the necessary material, as you can explain the reason for your low GPA and why that should not be significantly factored in.

Your grades in the required pre-med science courses will be essential. If you do well in those courses at this time, you would have further data to show the admission's board that your performance in college does not represent what you are now capable of doing. I think the quickest you could reasonably expect to take the pre-med courses would be a 2 year period.

Gary Barta

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Gary Barta » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:53 pm

Dr. Dave, I very much appreciate you prompt response and insight. As for attending law school with a 2.0 GPA, I was diagnosed with severe ADHD prior to taking the LSAT. With treatment and accomodation on the LSAT, I was able to do well enough for a school to take a chance with admitting me. Although having to take two years of required classes before ever being accepted to any medical school, I have a lot to think about. Thanks.

savs

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by savs » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:07 am

hello,
I am a canadian student who is applying to med school in the states and although my GPA when converted into American Schools becomes depressingly low (probably below 3). Because although my average is high for my 2nd and third year it was increadibly low my first year of university (I go to a very competitive school and they were weening students out inorder to reach capacity) I am a pharmacy technician, and I have volunteered everywhere (from teaching little kids how to read, to volunteering over 300 hours at a hospital, to raising $13,000 to build a school in Africa), I am writing my MCAT this year but do you think that I am reaching too high with my GPA being that low.


Thanks.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:44 pm

savs wrote:hello,
I am a canadian student who is applying to med school in the states and although my GPA when converted into American Schools becomes depressingly low (probably below 3). Because although my average is high for my 2nd and third year it was increadibly low my first year of university (I go to a very competitive school and they were weening students out inorder to reach capacity) I am a pharmacy technician, and I have volunteered everywhere (from teaching little kids how to read, to volunteering over 300 hours at a hospital, to raising $13,000 to build a school in Africa), I am writing my MCAT this year but do you think that I am reaching too high with my GPA being that low.


Thanks.
Based on your GPA alone, you will have a difficult time getting accepted into medical school. The fact that the college was trying to weed out students won't make a difference as most decent colleges have pre-med courses that are trying to weed out students. If there was some other reason for your low grades, which you corrected to improve your grades later on, you may have a better explanation to give to medical school admission committees.

nicose

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by nicose » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:54 pm

good day, is it human biology a 3-year course good for a pre-med?? thank you

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:07 pm

nicose wrote:good day, is it human biology a 3-year course good for a pre-med?? thank you
I'm not sure what you mean exactly, but I'm guessing you are asking if a 3rd year level course in human biology would be good for someone interested in going to medical school?

1. If you are asking whether it will help your chances of getting into medical school, then the answer is that no specific course will improve your chances of getting into medical school. The medical school admission committees don't seem to really care much about your specific coursework or your major, as long as you complete the pre-med requirements. If you do get an A in a science class, though, it will help your overall and your science GPA. If you know you can get a good grade in that class, then perhaps in some way it may be beneficial.

2. If you are asking whether that course will benefit you once you are in medical school - that's hard to say. Some people suggest you are better off saving medical school type courses for medical school. Their reasoning is that you'll need to learn the material in medical school either way, and taking it as an undergraduate takes away an opportunity to take another course that may be of interest to you. If it is a really good teacher and it is material you think you will struggle with in medical school, then perhaps it can make the medical school experience slightly less intense. Having said that, I don't really think that any undergrad level courses could have prepared me for medical school coursework in a meaningful way. Everyone is different though and there were a few classmates of mine who seemed to already know everything before we covered the material in medical school.

If you meant something else by your question, please elaborate and I will do my best to answer.

mjohny

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by mjohny » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:41 pm

Hey, I just started my first year in college and I want to go to medical school in the future, but I want to know which is better to do ?:
Take an easy major I like (non-science) like lets say an "art major" and focus on my medical school required courses like biology, etc and try get A's on both, the "easy" major courses and Med school required courses, and keep my GPA up.
OR
Take a hard science major like lets say "marine biology" and do the required medical school courses along with the marine biology courses. It will be hard but it might help my SCIENCE GPA since I got more science courses and might get a better average but im not sure if thats the right decision though.

I'll be really thankful if you'll answer my question and if there are any additional info. i should know about, feel free to add them in.
Thank you so much.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:45 pm

mjohny,

Good question but I don't think there is any definite answer on this one. It actually seems like you outlined the pros/cons of each route pretty well already.

It won't hurt you any to take a non-science major - although I would recommend you major in a field where you will have career options if medical school doesn't work out for you. Being an "art major" may not offer you the graduate school or career options for which you'd be looking. Majoring in a science field may offer you a chance to improve your science GPA, but that is a risky move since some of the high level science classes may be harder than you expect.

You can also be a non-science major and try to find some easy science classes that will pad your science GPA. Ultimately, I think it all balances out in the end. If you are on the borderline of being able to get into medical school, then perhaps course selection may make a difference in how good your GPA is.

Sans Sciences

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Sans Sciences » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:05 pm

I'm 24. I graduated from LMU with a 3.8 GPA, majoring in Film and Philosophy. I was accepted into law school, but after one year of it, I am sure that I do not wish to pursue a legal career. Now I think that my best choice for the future is to attend med school and train for psychiatry or neurobiology, though I presently have no science or math education beyond high school courses (Anatomy, Bio, AC Physics, AP Calculus, etc.), plus undergrad Math 100 and an intro science class for non-majors that wouldn't classify as any of the required pre-meds. (I had always been averse to sciences in high school and college; however, since about a year ago, I've had a growing fascination with psych and evolutionary bio.) My plan is to sufficiently learn all the necessary science in order to perform well on the MCAT. I've always been an autodidact, so I'm confident I can do so -- and rather quickly.

Do you have any recommendations for helpful study texts? Would MCAT prep courses devote significant time to covering precisely that science knowledge one needs to learn for the test? And finally, since I'll need to take the pre-med required courses, do you think I can just enroll to take them all at a community college and be finished this upcoming Spring or even this Fall? (I'd prefer online courses, but I realize the lab requirements would render that practically prohibited.)

As you can tell, I wish to get started as soon as possible. My hopeful plan is to learn all I'll need for the MCAT in the next few months and take the MCAT in time to apply for Fall 2011. Assuming I achieve a high enough MCAT score and earn A's this Fall, would schools be very likely to accept me (on condition that my Spring grades turn out to be adequate and then sent in)?

Thank you very much.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Fri Jul 02, 2010 11:13 pm

Sans Sciences,

Unfortunately, the route to medical school won't be quite as easy as you are hoping. You would almost definitely need to take the required pre-med courses at a 4 year college - not a community college. Medical schools require the medical school classes to be at the same level someone would take if they were majoring in that field - so biology for biology majors and chemistry for chemistry majors. The level of these science courses at a community college typically would not meet the requirement and most medical schools look down upon community colleges for the pre-med courses.

However, I have come across someone who claimed they knew someone who got into medical school taking pre-med courses at a community college. Obviously that isn't a resounding endorsement of that approach. I would suggest you call a few of the medical schools you are considering and talk to their admission's office and see what they have to say. If you do find a medical school that will accept the pre med classes from a community college you probably would need to have A's in those courses (and let me know what you find out - it would help many other people who have asked similar questions).

As to the MCAT - that's another story. The MCAT mostly tests you on the pre-med science coursework. Almost everyone takes it AFTER they have taken most of their pre-med required science courses, as that is essentially what the MCAT tests. Review books may cover most of the material - I haven't looked at any of the material since I taught a Kaplan MCAT class around 15 years ago. I'm not sure even those materials were detailed enough to really teach yourself enough to do well on the MCAT - it is assumed you already took the actual science classes. I've seen some good reviews for the Princeton Review Hyperlearnings books - with recommendations to buy them used on Ebay - and you can get the books that are a year or two old as the material really doesn't change much.

It would be very challenging to self-teach what you need to know to do well on the MCAT, but most people in medical school are pretty smart and I'm sure there are some out there that could self-teach.

The bottom line is that you'll need to take the pre-med courses anyway. Why take the MCAT before you've taken the courses? The coursework itself is the best preparation for the MCAT.

The coursework will take most people 2 years to complete. I'm doubtful it is possible to get all of the coursework done, take the MCAT, and get accepted into medical school by Fall 2011.

Based on your GPA and being able to get into law school, you are definitely smart; however, don't underestimate the need to do well in pre-med courses and do well on the MCAT. The pre-med coursework is viewed by most people as being significantly more challenging than non-science coursework. The MCAT is not the same as the LSAT. A lot depends on your aptitude in those science classes.

Best of luck and keep us posted on how you do.

gem525

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by gem525 » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:34 am

Hi. Your article was very informative and helpful. I majored in Communications and am beginning to consider applying to medical schools. However, I did not take many of the required "pre-med" courses during undergrad- and I got a D in psych during my freshman year. My questions are: Can I take the missing courses (physics, organic chemistry, etc) at any school to make them up, and also how can I get rid of that D in psych or improve it? Thanks!

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:16 pm

gem525,

You can take the required pre-med courses at any 4 year college. You should not take them at a community college. I'm not really aware of any way to get rid of the D on your transcript. If you have a good explanation of why you got a D and why it wouldn't happen again, you may want to include the explanation in your applications for medical school. Other people may have suggestions on how to handle the low grade, but it isn't something with which I'm familiar.

zztop77

Medical School Requirements & General Questions

Post by zztop77 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:38 am

Sorry, I have a three part question.

1. If I am majoring in economics, but want to go to medical school, do I need to have 1 year chem, 1 year organicchem, 1 year bio, 1 year calc, 1 year english (which I will complete anyway), and 1 year physics? I really want to be a doctor, but I like econ, and want to major in it. Plus, I have heard that med schools are interested in students that are non science majors. I am consistently studying MCAT (I am a freshman) , but I want to finish my degree in 4 years, and hopefully go straight to med school, after I finish my undergraduate work. I understand that different med schools have different requirements, I am thinking about UCLA David Geffen Medical School (along those lines).
2. This may appear to sound like a real strange question, but what happens if u take a leave of absence from med school for a couple years. (For example, you attend for two years, can u pick up where you left off, if decide to continue med school, several years later?
3. If I am looking to be a General Practioner, do I just need to get my M.D., so four years of med school, after undergrad work, or is there more involved.

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Re: Medical School Requirements & General Questions

Post by DrDave » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:38 pm

No need to apologize - multi-part questions are allowed :-)

1. You can major in any field you like, but you do need to complete the required pre-med courses you mentioned. I'm guessing that you have already seen the web page on the UCLA site with their medical school admission requirements <Link removed 11/22/12 as no longer active>.

2. It would be up to the medical school to decide if they will grant you an extended leave of absence. There is information on applying for a leave of absence at UCLA on their website, and it looks like they have a policy on keeping your pager active for a year if you are taking an entire year off - which leads me to believe that they will approve such a leave under the right circumstances. Be aware that there are financial aid implications involved as most school loans are in a deferment period while you are enrolled in school. Your loans may become due if you take a leave. Depending on what you do during your leave, you may be able to get forbearance on your loans - meaning that they will continue to accrue interest, but you would be able to delay making payments. Taking a break in the middle of medical school would likely make things more difficult mentally. The work of medical school is extremely challenging on many levels - academically, emotionally, and physically (I'm guessing it is still very difficult even with the improved call limits - working all night long and getting limited sleep affects everyone differently). Most people I know who took time off (all of the people I know personally took the time off to obtain another graduate degree - but I know of people who took time off for other reasons - like having a child) found the transition back to medical school challenging. They were able to complete the transition, but it wasn't an easy one for many reasons. You would want to have a very good reason to be planning now that you may want to take a leave part way through medical school.

3. You would want to be at least board eligible in a field, meaning that you are qualified to be board certified in a field of medicine. General practitioners include family medicine physicians, internists, and pediatricians. You can complete a residency in any of those fields in three years. During your last year of medical school you apply for a residency program in the field of your choice. During residency, you are paid a modest salary (relative to the hours worked) typically around $40,000 at this time. Depending on the program, you may have options to moonlight and make additional income. You will be able to obtain a residents license after medical school and a permanent license after 1 year of residency. You technically can practice medicine with the permanent license, but most jobs will not hire you unless you are board eligible in a field. No one that I know currently practices medicine without having completed a residency.

Let me know if you have more questions.

pv1010

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by pv1010 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:53 am

Ok
I grew up poor and I went to very under preforming primary, elementary, middle, and high schools. My parents are immigrants and i grew up watching them work 16-hour days. I graduated and went on the University (first in my family to go beyond the 5th grade in school). I did well my first year of college (3.7) then my father got sick and i had to work 3 jobs to help my family and to pay for school. He died my junior year but his illness dragged on for years and bankrupted us, and i transferred to the school closer to home. I just finished my first year at my transfer University and i have been doing very well now. I have a 3.24 overall GPA and am going to graduate this may with a degree in Biological Sciences and Latino Studies. I am worried because at my old school i had a 2.89 GPA and withdrew from the entire semester when my dad died. I don't have the money to go back and re-take classes. I have volunteered and stayed involved continuously in college and have a year of research under my belt. I failed Chem 1 and Ochem 1 but i retook them and got an A both times. I know that we have to 'explain' why we didn't do so well, but i just don't want to rely heavily on my 'problems'. I am graduating in 5 years instead of 4, and i just feel like i have too much baggage for a school to take me serious. Honestly i have tried to the best of my ability, and i really want to be a doctor... but i need to be realistic. Do you think i have a shot? Is it even worth trying? Yes i have researched other career options but this is the one i want.

Thank you,
- p

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:20 pm

pv1010,

If the 3.24 overall includes the 2.89 from the previous school then it seems your grades were pretty good following the transfer. A 3.24 overall (if it doesn't include the previous school's grades) is definitely low compared to the vast majority of people who go to medical school. It isn't clear to me from your post at what point you transferred - was it after your first or second year? Were you at the new school while your father was still ill?

If your father's illness coincides with the time of your poor grades and your grades improved dramatically once you had some closure on his illness and death, then I think it is essential that you point out the the hardship you were having. Your family story does give you a unique background that may be of interest to some medical schools.

The bottom line is that you would need a good explanation for why you failed your pre-med courses the first time, but it is great that you were able to get A's the second try. The question an admission's committee is likely to wonder is whether the second school was much easier, or if you were able to be appropriately focused the second time around.

A great MCAT school obviously would work to your advantage, but a low score may make getting accepting into medical school impossible.

These are just my opinions and speaking to a pre-med advisor at your school may provide additional insight into your chances. Best of luck, and I'm sorry to hear about your father. I can't imagine trying to focus on school work while dealing with those types of issues and I think most admission's committees would agree.

pv1010

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by pv1010 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:15 am

DrDave wrote:pv1010,

If the 3.24 overall includes the 2.89 from the previous school then it seems your grades were pretty good following the transfer. A 3.24 overall (if it doesn't include the previous school's grades) is definitely low compared to the vast majority of people who go to medical school. It isn't clear to me from your post at what point you transferred - was it after your first or second year? Were you at the new school while your father was still ill?

If your father's illness coincides with the time of your poor grades and your grades improved dramatically once you had some closure on his illness and death, then I think it is essential that you point out the the hardship you were having. Your family story does give you a unique background that may be of interest to some medical schools.

The bottom line is that you would need a good explanation for why you failed your pre-med courses the first time, but it is great that you were able to get A's the second try. The question an admission's committee is likely to wonder is whether the second school was much easier, or if you were able to be appropriately focused the second time around.

A great MCAT school obviously would work to your advantage, but a low score may make getting accepting into medical school impossible.

These are just my opinions and speaking to a pre-med advisor at your school may provide additional insight into your chances. Best of luck, and I'm sorry to hear about your father. I can't imagine trying to focus on school work while dealing with those types of issues and I think most admission's committees would agree.

Wow thanks for the quick response,
I moved schools after my dad died during my 3rd year (i didn't finish the last semester there ). I have spoken to my pre health counselor but they mostly just want money and give me vague answers. I transferred from one state university to the other, i really don't know how to assess if one is easier than the other, but i think they were pretty much the same (located in 2 different cities). Yes my grades took a huge dip during my dads illness and subsequent passing. But then they picked up after i moved back home and started at my transfer school (logistical reasons; i didn't have as many expenses since i was back home so i didn't work so many hours and the convinces of having a car and meals really made a difference along with family as comfort). My transcripts show definite progress for the better and i got a 34 on the MCAT and this is my last year at school and I want to apply but i am not sure if after this point that's it? at 21 the past is irreversible and i can never go to medical school ever? Would any post graduate programs help? But i doubt i could even get into any of those...

well thank you for the response, its very nice for you to take your time to respond, you have been more helpful to me than anyone i have interacted with in my last 4 years in school.

regards,

- p

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:00 pm

pv1010,

A 34 on the MCAT seems like a good score - that's a definite plus. You have an interesting story too and as good of an explanation as you can have as to why your grades were not better. It may be worth applying to a few schools in your area to see how they respond. Make sure you include information in your application about your special circumstances. Additionally, you may want to consider osteopathic schools as they are easier to get into, and ultimately you can still have the same type of practice as if you had gone to an allopathic program.

There are programs designed to help bolster your transcript for medical school. I'm not familiar with the programs, but I'm sure if you do some search online you can find which ones really do help and which ones don't. You can get a list of some of the programs at the attached link - and then select in the bottom-right box titled "Special Program Focus" the option of "Academic record-enhancers" - then click search.

http://services.aamc.org/postbac/

I think you do have a few potential options - which is more than many people who ask questions on these forums. I wish you luck and please let me know how things go for you.

TAB

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by TAB » Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:44 pm

MY QUESTION IS THIS THAT I HAVE ALL REQUIREMENTS OF MEDICAL SCHOOL EXCEPT THE CHEMISTRY CLASS SO WHAT SHOULD I DO ?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:14 pm

TAB,

You need to complete all of the pre-med courses in order to get accepted into medical school. As for chemistry classes, you will need to take both general chemistry and organic chemistry, both with associated lab.

tab

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by tab » Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:23 am

thanks for giving my answer, but i want to ask you one more question and my question is this, that these all classes are required for medical school i can take in medical school or some kind of another school because i took bio,physics and english in my high school and i have already those credits. so do i have to take it again in medical school.besides chemistry however that the only subject i need to take for medical school ?

guest

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by guest » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:51 am

hi,

i'm a student going to university this year and recently having problems on selecting courses. i was searching about the med. school requirements for U.S. universities and most of them require 1 year of physics. so my question is does it matter which level the course is ? or just as long as i have two semesters of physics would be fine? thanks

Sgt. Sepulveda

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Sgt. Sepulveda » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:03 pm

I have a quick question, i am currently in the military and going to school, I have been in the military for 8 years and planning on staying in for the next 12. does it matter if I recieve several ba.'s and close to my forties when i apply to medical school. would it also be looked differenly if my ba. took me more than 4 years to complete, compared to the normal 4 to 5 years, due to my military duties?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:29 pm

tab wrote:thanks for giving my answer, but i want to ask you one more question and my question is this, that these all classes are required for medical school i can take in medical school or some kind of another school because i took bio,physics and english in my high school and i have already those credits. so do i have to take it again in medical school.besides chemistry however that the only subject i need to take for medical school ?
You have to take the required pre-med classes at the college level, not the high school level, in order to apply to medical school (which is after college). You can take AP levels of physics and biology and some medical schools may accept high AP test scores as adequate, but some do not.

It is generally recommended that you take the college level course that someone majoring in that particular field would have to take - such as general chemistry for chemistry majors. This is a more rigorous course that a general chemistry class for non-chemistry majors. You also need to take the science classes with the associated lab.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:33 pm

guest wrote:hi,

i'm a student going to university this year and recently having problems on selecting courses. i was searching about the med. school requirements for U.S. universities and most of them require 1 year of physics. so my question is does it matter which level the course is ? or just as long as i have two semesters of physics would be fine? thanks
You would want to take 1st year physics for physics majors, with associated lab.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:39 pm

Sgt. Sepulveda wrote:I have a quick question, i am currently in the military and going to school, I have been in the military for 8 years and planning on staying in for the next 12. does it matter if I recieve several ba.'s and close to my forties when i apply to medical school. would it also be looked differenly if my ba. took me more than 4 years to complete, compared to the normal 4 to 5 years, due to my military duties?
For most schools, age is not a factor in getting into medical school. If you have good grades, have taken the required pre-med courses, and did well on the MCAT, you should be able to find a school that will accept you. I would think that the length of time to complete your degrees will not be a major factor as you have a valid explanation for the extended time.

Remember - I am not a medical school advisor, just someone who went through the process. I know many people who went to medical school later in life. I think the physical challenges were more difficult as well as staying humble when taking orders from younger doctors who sometimes have attitudes. Most of the people I know graduated college at the typical age, but had a career before going back to complete their pre-med coursework and then applying to medical school. I'm not sure how much differently your path would be looked upon by medical school admission's committees.

Palaciogbr

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Palaciogbr » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:06 pm

I maintain a 3.2 GPA I've gotten B's and higher on all my science courses but I've had withdrew from many classes. If I maintain my GPA and graduate next year and do well on the MCAT what would be the most common reaction of a Med School that sees that I've withdrawn from several classes on my transcript?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:37 pm

Palaciogbr,

The schools will likely wonder why you have multiple withdrawals on your transcript. You would need to provide a good explanation for the withdrawals on your application.

jirachi

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by jirachi » Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:12 pm

I've heard that most medical schools accept the top 50 students of each colleges. Does this mean that going to a less populated college is more of an advantage than going to a bigger college like the University of Washington - Seattle?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:03 pm

jirachi wrote:I've heard that most medical schools accept the top 50 students of each colleges. Does this mean that going to a less populated college is more of an advantage than going to a bigger college like the University of Washington - Seattle?
Jirachi,

I'm not sure where you heard that the top 50 students of each school get accepted to medical school, but it is completely untrue. In general, the most important factors are your grade point average and your MCAT scores. I'm not exactly sure how medical school admission's committees weigh the particular undergraduate school you attended, but I'm guessing that some schools do factor that in as well. Your absolute class rank does not matter, especially given the reason you give that schools are all different sizes. Your class rank percentile could be looked at, but I usually hear people talk about GPA rather than class rank percentile.

The bottom line is you will have no advantage or disadvantage going to a smaller school compared to a larger school.

Kirk

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by Kirk » Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:16 am

Hi,

I'm a second year student who recently changed his major to Biological Science after a bad year as a Political Science major; I got a D in a high-level PolySci course and decided to change (Although, I maintained all A's in the other PolySci coursework). My question is, if I have a decent (3.7 or so) science GPA and a competitive MCAT score, how hard does the med school tend to look at that D? Can one or two D's be deal breakers even if the GPAs are good?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:22 pm

Kirk,

I really don't have an answer and unfortunately, the only way to know will be to apply to medical schools and see if you get accepted. The issue in my mind is what happened that you got a D grade? If you have a valid explanation as to why your grades were not good, that would help your chances of getting accepted. You should probably talk with your school's pre-med advisor and see what he/she has to say. I'm curious what his/her answer is as well.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by muw2014 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:45 pm

I am wanting to get into medical school once I graduate with a double major in Biology and Chemistry. I have had a rough first 4 at a community college and i have a 2.21 a couple of D's and and i Failed 3 classes my first two years of school and have been pulling my gpa up every since then. Do i have a chance at getting into medical school if i pull my gpa up to a decent 3.5 to a 4.0. and good MCAT scores. The reason for my low gpa I was having a hard time deciding a major and I have decided that i wanna be a doctor.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:37 pm

muw2014,

You are going to have a very difficult time getting into medical school having failed multiple classes (in my opinion). Most people who have a single C grade will have a difficult time getting into medical school let alone worse grades. I don't think that an explanation of having a difficult time selecting a major adequately explains the failing grades. I also don't think it is likely that you would be able to raise a 2.2 GPA up as significantly as you suggest.

I would highly encourage you to speak to your school counselor and see what he/she suggests.

AThomas

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by AThomas » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:35 am

If you have a BA from UCLA in Political Science, graduated and now realize I want to attend medical school instead of law school. If I complete all my Pre-med requirements at a community college, would i still have a chance of getting into a top medical school?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:30 pm

AThomas,

The general rule is that the pre-med science classes should NOT be taken at a community college. I've heard rare stories of someone getting into medical school who did take pre-med science courses at a community college, but that definitely seems to be the exception. Based on what I've heard, it seems it is best to take the courses at a 4 year college. I would think this is even more important if you are interested in a top medical school.

hadaquestion

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by hadaquestion » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:31 pm

Can one take nursing as major and go to medical school directly after getting a bachelor of science? The school I'm thinking of offers english grammar and compositon, biology, organic and biological chemistry, and general chemistry all on the freshman year. Would that be enough?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:07 pm

hadaquestion,

After obtaining a bachelor's degree, you can get apply to medical school if you have taken the MCAT and taken the required pre-med courses. The required pre-med courses including 1 year biology with lab, 1 year general chemistry with lab, 1 year organic chemistry with lab, and 1 year of physics. Some schools also have other requirements, but the above ones are the main courses. You would NOT want to take all of those courses in the same year and I doubt that a college would let you. If I remember correctly, general chemistry is usually a pre-requisite for organic chemistry. The courses are typically very challenging and most people take no more than two of the courses at a time.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by TMSletten » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:38 am

I just wanted to say thank-you Dr.Dave this forum has been a great help to me. I didnt have to ask any questions because they all have already been answered! Kudos to you.

jdo2010

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by jdo2010 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:17 pm

Hi there Dr. Dave! -
I currently am enrolled at the community college. I am going to be here for one more semester, then transfer to Univeristy of Maryland. Upon HS graduation, i wasnt sure of where I wanted to go, so decided to start here. I have a 4.0. I want to go to medical school badly. I am hoping to transfer by next fall, then start to take the requirements for med school. I want to go to Johns Hopkins, or Harvard...or wherever I get in, Lol. Are my chances as good as others if I keep up a 4.0 transferring into the 4 year? Much thanks!
Joshua

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:09 pm

jdo2010,

There are quite a few threads here about community colleges and medical school. In my opinion, if you have good grades at a community college, and you take all of your pre-med courses at a 4 year university, then the community college experience shouldn't have any negative impact. I would think that medical schools would appreciate your approach in not jumping in to an expensive college when you weren't sure where you would go. With the rising cost of education, I think taking credits at a community college seems like a smart choice. I don't think good grades anywhere would ever hurt you (as long as you take those pre-med courses at a full university).

Getting in to medical schools like Harvard and Hopkins is not easy. I don't know how those schools decide who they will accept, but I would imagine those applicants have to be truly exceptional. The students who get accepted into an average medical school are at the top of their college classes. I've heard of applicants to Harvard and Hopkins with exceptional grades and test scores who didn't get accepted, and they were coming from a good colleges. I think at schools like that, having an Ivy league education or some other exceptional experience is what it takes to get accepted.

jdo2010

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by jdo2010 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:14 pm

Great! - I really appreciate it, thanks alot.
I am going to take up until pre-calculus then switch over to the 4 year taking calculus, which is a requirement for med school.
Hoping everything goes okay.
Thanks again!
:)

KAF

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by KAF » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:21 pm

If I had courses like:

Biol 101 and Microbiology
Chem 101 and Biochemistry
Physics 101
Organic chem 1 and 2
Calc

Would that be good or good enough? And why does med school require physics? Doesn't seem that relevant. But what would you suggest?

Also, my undergrad is in Emergency Health Services - Paramedic, as a Paramedic and with 6+ years as an EMT/Paramedic would that influence my ability to get into med school?

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:28 pm

KAF,

I would suggest you check with a few of the medical schools you are considering. You can see if they have their requirements listed on their website. If not, you probably would want to actually call. Those courses are not the typical courses people take, but some medical schools will list their requirements as something like:

"Two courses of general biological sciences or equivalent with laboratory"

I don't know if they would consider microbiology as an equivalent or not. The courses would need to be with a lab. I have seen some medical schools that specify they will count a semester of introductory biochemistry instead of second semester of organic chemistry. Perhaps some would allow that in place of inorganic chemistry but I doubt it. Most medical schools require two semesters of physics, not just one.

Physics is important in understanding various parts of human physiology as well as radiology and nuclear medicine.

jme2012

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by jme2012 » Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:44 pm

Hi I have two very brief questions!

I am a junior at UGA with a 3.7 GPA majoring in both microbiology and psychology. My question is if I drop one of my majors to graduate a semester early will medical schools look down upon this 9 month break (in which I intend on working to have some kind of income for medical school) or should I push through the extra semester because having two majors will make me stand out from other candidates.

My second question is pretty straight forward: do you know if I have to take both the MCAT and the GRE to get into a MD/ PHD program?


If you could respond when you find that time I would greatly appreciate it :)

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:01 am

jme2012,

I don't think medical schools will look down on the extra time off if you graduate a semester early, especially if you make good use of your time off. Having a double major doesn't really add much as far as getting into medical school goes. I don't think you'll stand out any more with a double major than you would with graduating early and earning extra money to pay for medical school.

You can probably check on the websites for the schools where you are considering MD/PhD programs, but when I applied (many years ago now), you did not have to take the GRE to get into MD/PhD programs. You just had to take the MCAT.

HowAreYou

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by HowAreYou » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:55 pm

First of all, hi everyone!
Secondly, i tried to sign up and i already received the email- i clicked the link in there and i still can not login :tantrum:
finally, i have something to ask everyone. First, i am not American, i am international student. I like psychology and i want to become psychologist but i do not really know what to do in order to become one. However, i do know that it involves many things like biology and med! ...etc. In addition, this is my first year in university. I also just tried bio-science [last month].

I must admit that it is so hard ....:scream1: . Oh yeah, i am still taking general education because i can not decide what my major will be later. I just still in the middle of my careers; so can you tell me that i should change my major or keep going on? should i start changing my mind about what i like? Beside psychology which i like since i was a young boy [around middle school]. I do want to become graphic designer and salesman [sales- i have found anything that relate to sales beside marketing; so i am feeling bad.]

So should i give up as an international student because it is so hard for me to learn? :getout:! Moreover, if you can give me the steps which i can become a psychologist plus how many years it will take me to do it. I am appreciate for your precious time.

Please take my deeply respectful and thank you. :hands:

HowAreYou

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by HowAreYou » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:56 pm

sorry about the "smiles" above, i thought it would work here.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by masrazfb » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:29 am

Hello DrDave

I really need help on answering this question and I am at a loss at who to turn to.
I am currently a first year undergraduate student at a 4 year public university. The university im currently at is ranked #25 nationally. It is 2 hours away from my home. Due to personal reasons I wish to transfer to a university closer to my home for the coming year. The two universities im considering are very different. The first one is George Washington University (private, ranked #51 nationally, also has a medical school) and the second is George Mason University (public, ranked #143 nationally).

I guess what it comes down to is, does the rank and prestige of your undergraduate institution matter to medical schools? For GW-#51, obviously the academic level is much closer to my original university which was at a high rank. However, at GMU-#143 im sure my gpa would be stellar because I have some friends that go there and they are doing very well and I consider myself at a little bit higher academic level than them. Do you think it is more beneficial to me to stand out at a MUCH lower university (i mean you can see that the difference is almost -150 spots) or try to do my best to stand out at the better one since im already transferring from a good one to begin with? Do you think if i went to the lower one it would seem as if i skipped out on #25 because it was too hard or something?

Thank you so much
M.

oliviadc

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by oliviadc » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:19 am

Hi,
I go to UCSD. I am currently a first year, and I am pre-med. I am a biochem/chem major, but I may switch into literature or biology. I received a C in calculus and in chem6A and 6B (the general chem classes). I am freaking out! I am afraid this will prevent me from getting into medical school in the future--especially since I can't say what my grades in the future will be. I'm going to do my best to do better, but do you have any advice or thoughts?
-Thank you,
Olivia

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:42 pm

masrazfb,

Pick whichever college is the best fit for you. You have a good explanation why you are changing schools. Most medical schools don't put a huge amount of weight in where you are going to college unless it is really a very top tier school or a very low level college. The reason to go to a better college is because it will get you a better education - not because a medical school will weight it higher. Unless you plan on going to a top tier medical school, it likely won't make as much of a difference as you think.

oliviadc,

Your grades definitely are going to make getting into medical school a challenge. One C in a pre-med course isn't usually a deal breaker, but since it sounds like you've gotten all C's so far, there is a reasonable chance you will continue to have a struggle in the pre-med science classes. Organic chemistry is more difficult for most than general chemistry. Biology may wind up being a better fit for you, but you won't know until you take more of the biology courses and see what your grades are like in those classes.

If you are completely set on going to medical school, continue to do your best and see how things go. I would highly recommend you keep reasonable expectations, though, as it may be that medical school just won't be the right fit for you.

li66

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by li66 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:35 pm

Hello,

I took Ochem II in the summer and got a D in it. I decided to retake it this spring but I ended up dropping it. I decided to drop it in the spring because I was scared that I was only going to get a C instead of a B or higher. I did not want to ruin my GPA by getting a C in ochem II, especially since the D hurt my gpa alot. I am doing great in all my other classes...its just the D thats holding me back. Do I still have a shot at med school? Should I retake Ochem II one more time or is it possible to get into med school by having a good MCAT score and a good GPA?
Please help!

Thank you

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:07 pm

I have heard of some situations where a student got a D in organic chemistry, retook it and got a B, and was able to get into medical school. I've also heard of people getting into DO school with retaking organic chemistry and getting a C. It is obviously not easy, but a lot depends on the overall pattern of your grades. If this was a single bad grade, and you have demonstrated that you can perform well in all other science classes, then you will have a stronger application than someone who has had a pattern of bad grades in pre-med courses. A strong MCAT score in the science sections will help as well.

With a D, I think you definitely need to do something to demonstrate that you are capable of doing that coursework.

As always, this is just my opinion and I'd strongly encourage you to speak to your school's pre-med advisor. If you get more feedback from them, I'd appreciate if you could share the information here for others. I think your situation is fairly common and people need to be realistic in their self-assessment of their situation.

anniecrhis

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by anniecrhis » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:44 am

Hello,
I have a few questions and concerns. My undergraduate GPA is 3.37/decent but not great. I haven't taken any premed classes and I'm currently deciding whether I should enroll in a postbac program or take the premed classes at a state school. I applied to Bryn Mawr and didn't get in, and dont' know what to make of it. I'm currently looking at maybe northwestern or harvard postbacc programs. I went to BYU for my undergrad and got a degree in Communications. The ironic thing about this is that before deciding to go into medical school I got into a few Ivy leagues for a MA in communications. I have decided to let that go and go to medical school.
I am worry that my undergrad gpa is not good enough, and I also took longer than 4 years to graduate because I had health related issues and had to take some time off school. Hope you can advice me what the best route will be and if I can do anything to redeem my undergrad GPA

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:24 pm

anniecrhis,

There are a few old discussions here about post-bacc programs vs taking required classes outside of a specific program. Here's one - and then you can follow some of the related links at the end:

Post-bac full time or take courses while working full time

Your undergrad GPA isn't too bad, especially if you get good grades in your pre-med courses. The challenge is that pre-med courses are often very difficult compared to non-science classes, especially for people who aren't naturally science-oriented thinkers. There is not a good way to predict how you will do until you take the classes.

I can't really comment on how post-bacc programs determine who will get accepted. I just don't have much experience in that area. It could be something as simple as their class already being full when you applied.

I would think the fact that you took more than 4 years to finish college shouldn't be an issue, as long as you weren't wasting the extra time. Taking time off for health related issues can work to your favor if you are able to discuss in your med school application how the experience may help you be a better doctor.

As I said before, your GPA is probably close enough that if you do well in your pre-med courses, and assuming you do well on the MCAT, you should be competitive at some programs. A lot will depend on how you do in those pre-med courses. I can't really say whether it is better to do a post-bacc program vs taking the courses separately. That's a decision that you'll have to make based on what you know of the various programs.

To give you a better idea of how your GPA stacks up, take a look at this thread which has tables showing acceptance rates based on GPA and MCAT scores.

Best of luck, and please keep us updated on what you decide and why, as well as how it goes.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by adecesare1 » Mon May 09, 2011 4:19 pm

For the 1 year pre-reqs to get into medical school, What exactly does it mean by 1 year of those classes?

Does it mean 2 terms, say chem 1 and 2 or phys 1 and 2 ? or is there such thing as 1 course that lasts for those 2 terms ?
Please clear this up for me, Thank you.

caTaclysm

Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by caTaclysm » Wed May 11, 2011 11:13 pm

Hello Dr. Dave,

I go to sophomore undergraduate student at UCSD in the Chemistry department and I currently have a 3.095 GPA.
I know these grades are really bad for getting into medical school but I have been improving
ever since my first quarter in college last year (I had a 2.8GPA). Since students usually apply
to medical school during the end of junior year, will I be able to raise my GPA high enough to have shot?
Would raising it to ~ a 3.4 be /okay/? And do medical schools look up upon improvement?

I also plan to study for and take the MCAT this summer. What MCAT score would you say will
be enough to make up for my low GPA?

I'm also working in a laboratory and plan to start volunteering in a hospital soon.
Will this help my chances?

Thank you in advance.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sat May 14, 2011 10:12 pm

adecesare1 wrote:For the 1 year pre-reqs to get into medical school, What exactly does it mean by 1 year of those classes?

Does it mean 2 terms, say chem 1 and 2 or phys 1 and 2 ? or is there such thing as 1 course that lasts for those 2 terms ?
Please clear this up for me, Thank you.
Adecasare1,

At most colleges, it means general chemistry 1 and general chemistry 2, or something similar, with each course being a semester. I'm not aware of any schools that offer one year long course, but I suppose it is possible.

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Re: Medical School Requirements - Frequent Questions and Ans

Post by DrDave » Sat May 14, 2011 11:11 pm

caTaclysm,

I have heard that schools do tend to give some benefit if your grades improved since your freshman year. I can't really say how much it will help you, but if anything, it won't hurt you. As for grades and MCAT scores, there is a thread with some links to very detailed information here: MCAT scores and Grades needed to get into medical school

According to the data from that thread, for applicants with a GPA between 3.2 and 3.39:

MCAT 21-23 Acceptance rate = 13.4%
MCAT 24-26 Acceptance rate = 18%
MCAT 27-29 Acceptance rate = 25.9%
MCAT 30-32 Acceptance rate = 38.7%
MCAT 33-35 Acceptance Rate = 51.3%
MCAT 36-38 Acceptance Rate = 61.1%

The numbers improve quite a bit for the 3.4 - 3.59 bracket, as an MCAT of 30-32 in that bracket had an acceptance rate of 55.5%.

Volunteering and do lab work won't hurt you, but most medical students have that same experience. It won't be the thing that would make or break your application like grades and MCAT scores.


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